11/30/17

Thanksgiving With a Dollop of Politics on the Side

By: Lloyd Marcus

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I caught two police drama TV shows in which a young woman called her man her “partner” rather than her boyfriend. I thought, “That’s weird. Why didn’t she simply say her boyfriend?” Then, it dawned on me. Homosexuals use the term “partner”. So now Hollywood producers are telling us we must be what they call “gender inclusive”. We must abandon traditional gender distinctive terms like boyfriend and girlfriend. This is yet another under-the-radar baby-step by Leftists to implement the LGBT agenda.

Some of you are saying, Lloyd you’re nuts, seeing conspiracy everywhere. Okay, explain to me why boyfriends are now called partners. Public schools are banning teachers from addressing students as boys and girls. Leftists claim saying boys and girls is bigoted, ignorant, insensitive and mean. http://fxn.ws/2aSCFyy

Ground zero for the gender obsession and anything goes sexually movement sweeping our country is the democratic party. Amazingly, 77% of college educated democrats say gender is not determined at birth. http://bit.ly/2hy1Afz

Think about that folks. 77% of college democrats say if you believe penis means boy and vagina means girl you are an idiot; an intolerant haters. They are also saying God’s original plan for males and females is wrong and they will use government to force us into submission. An elementary teacher who can not decide her gender was awarded $60k because co-workers refused to call her, “they”. http://bit.ly/2hYkQPN It is crazy out there folks.

Other than noticing women calling boyfriends partners, watching TV Thanksgiving weekend was refreshingly void of Leftists’ indoctrination.

My wife Mary said, “Oh no, Matt Lauer, is hosting Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade”. Thankfully, Lauer did not interject digs at Trump or lecture us. Leftists use Thanksgiving to scold us. They say while we stuff ourselves with turkey and pumpkin pie the world that we stole everything from is suffering. NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick spent Thanksgiving at an “Un-Thanksgiving” rally to continue telling us Americans what scumbags we are. http://bit.ly/2zvojML

Leftist president Obama used Thanksgiving to beat up on us for not going along with him bringing in 10,000 Syrian refugees. This was on the heels of the terrorist bombing in Paris. The suicide bomber sneaked into Paris in a group of refugees. http://bit.ly/2iXVeUd

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was household and fun to watch. Although, I expected to see the first LGBT float. Threats of large-scale violence forced the Boston St Patrick’s Day Parade to included LGBTs. Note that the St Patrick’s Day parade is a Catholic event. Leftists love forcing Christians to abandon their religious convictions. http://bit.ly/2n7nQgC

I deserve a Husband-of-the-Year award for allowing Mary to drag me to a ga-zillion stores black Friday. She really enjoyed and appreciated it.

As a black man, I am highly offended that they call it “black” Friday. Just kidding. But it is pretty crazy the way Leftists find ways to see victims and racism in everything and everywhere these days. I read an article in which a Leftist declared peanut butter and jelly sandwiches racist. I kid you not folks. http://bit.ly/1G7Fizv

Taking a break from my overflowing with testosterone movies like “Die Hard” and “John Wick”, I watched a Christmas movie with Mary on her beloved Hallmark Channel. For the most part, the movie featured traditional values and themes; boy meets girl and so on. Dare I admit that the happily ever-after ending felt good and made me smile. Then, I watched Stanford kick Notre Dame’s butt; 38 to 20.

Mary noticed that her Hallmark Christmas movie marathon featured few blacks. I think it is because Hallmark has mistakenly bought into Leftists’ image of black America, thinking their movies are too traditional and wholesome to attract a large black viewership.

As a black American, practically everything I see Hollywood marketing to black Americans has a rude, crude ghetto cultural edge. BET (Black Entertainment Television) programming celebrates raunchiness.

http://bit.ly/2n7Lawh

Leftists at Oxygen channel were excited about giving black America their new reality show titled, “All My Babies’ Mamas”. The show featured black rapper Shawty Lo who had 11 children by 10 black girls. Thank God the show was canceled due to black outrage. http://thebea.st/2jujEDU

As a matter of fact, Leftists say blacks who do not reflect “the hood” in their speech, behavior and dress are traitors to their race; trying to act white. http://cbsprt.co/2AfqQMh I remember Leftists trashed The Cosby Show for featuring a successful wholesome black family in America. Leftist deemed the TV show unrealistic.

Ponder that folks. Dr MLK, Jr, my dad and other black civil rights pioneers/heroes fought, suffered and some even died for blacks to have an opportunity to rise above poverty, ignorance and “the hood”. Praise God, blacks are thriving in every area of American life today. And yet, Leftists are persistent in grabbing blacks by the ankles to make sure they do not stray too far from their ghetto roots.

I had a delightful Thanksgiving weekends folks. I am thankful for my amazing wife of 40 years, thankful for our new home in West Virginia and thankful that Donald Trump is in the White House.

Go Judge Moore Go!!!

Lloyd Marcus, The Unhyphenated American
Author: “Confessions of a Black Conservative: How the Left has shattered the dreams of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Black America.”
Singer/Songwriter and Conservative Activist
http://LloydMarcus.com

11/30/17

Birth of the Congressional “Slush Fund” – It’s Not What You Think – By Denise Simon

By: Denise Simon | Political Vanguard

Wouldn’t you like to know the source of the money that is used to pay for those judgments against members of Congress?  I did – and, boy, was I surprised.

Let’s start with the  1995 Congressional Accountability Act (the “CAA”). It was the first bill “signed into law for the 104thCongress. The legislation applied 11 civil rights, safety, labor, and public access federal laws to the Legislative Branch, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHAct), the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), among others.”

To enforce all of that, the CAA also created something called the Office of Compliance. The OOC has a Board of Directors and a staff. Besides compliance, it also is supposed to “provide an outreach and education program for Legislative Branch employers.”

As for how investigations work, we have been told that when members of Congress have allegations against them for sexual harassment or similar charges, those cases go before the associated ethic committees.

Sounds reasonable, but it is not. Why?

In practice, the Office of Compliance takes over all such investigations and makes any associated payouts.  Then, and this is a big THEN, the results are kept secret.

See?  We are being punked here – and it gets worse.

While discovery of this slush fund raised ire, blame has been applied to the wrong people to a large degree, i.e. the Speaker of the House or the Senate Majority Leader for keeping such secrets. That is a fool’s errand since the accountability is under the Treasury Department.

So what about legislative appropriations for the fund? Hah… there are no such appropriations. There is no such money assigned to the fund. It is a pay as you go thing, which is to say that Treasury actually has a slush fund to cover such miscellaneous requests.

That little fund at Treasury is titled the Judgement Fund and it for sure can write checks for eye-popping amounts for sundry different causes. Remember that $1.3 trillion paid to Iran? The Judgment Fund. Congress didn’t even know about that money until it was seen on television sitting on pallets at a Swiss airport being loaded on a plane.

From time to time you can sue the Federal government and win. If you are awarded monetary compensation, yup, it comes from that Judgement Fund at Treasury. Don’t forget though – it is still all taxpayer money.

Returning to the investigation of cases, there is a four-step process and a 30 day counseling period for many cases. In the case of sexual harassment or other similar charge like a hostile work environment or even alcohol or drug use, there is delay until three months have passed, including a 30-day period after enduring a mediation process with their harasser.

Once this whole process is complete and a financial award is granted, it is then that the Chair and the Ranking Member of the House Administration Committee is brought in on the case and can either approve or deny the monetary award.

For additional clarification on approvals and how Treasury owns this process, go here.

There has been substantial chatter and various demands that the members of Congress who are the violators be unmasked. There also has been calls for members of Congress to reimburse the government and pay for these hush funds out of their own pockets. While that sounds fair, it won’t happen overnight.

Both would require legislative action, on the one hand, and legal action taken by the Justice Department.  Those payouts are subject to the non-disclosure agreements and they would have to be judged null and void or superseded by law retroactively. The latter two present real legal challenges. Congress and the Justice Department work slowly and none of these demands will occur any time soon.

Due to Congressman John Conyers and Senator Al Franken, and the countless other previous cases, a bi-partisan law has been introduced titled Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act.

That sounds great, right?

Yes, in theory it does. However, again, whether it can be used retroactively is questionable. Further, questions remain like: Would it repeal all or part of the original law?

There’s more . . .

This Office of Compliance (OOC) publishes the amounts of payouts and number of complaints in its annual report. BUT . . . Those numbers haven’t been published since 2014. In addition to that “oversight,” the law directs the OOC to publish the details of why complaints were filed. Right now those details aren’t being shared. Multiple congressional offices have said they have been blocked from finding out the exact number of sexual harassment complaints or to whom settlements were paid.

Does all of this explain and eventually solve the issue?

Hardly so, remember this is a condition that applies to approximately 30,000 Members of Congress and their staff (yes they have that many staff) – and don’t forget, there are millions of other Federal employees in other agencies. One can argue the State Department has a much worse problem due in part to personnel being out of sight out of mind mostly as a result of international assignments.

How about sex on the roof at an embassy in Iraq including a video? Do you recall the name Bret McGurk? He is presently the special envoy for the global coalition to counter Islamic State assigned to the State Department. Seems there are some wild emails of value that were covered up. The State Department is so bad it could have had its diplomatic section in Playboy magazine including behavior and conduct is beyond compare to that of Harvey Weinstein.

Things were fabulous at the State Department under Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Prostitutes paraded through the diplomatic ranks in an almost daily procedural condition. Mission posts and embassies in many locations were essentially bordellos. How about sex to get a visa? Yup, that happened too. How about a sitting ambassador trolling public parks for prostitutes? Uh huh, and back at Foggy Bottom, the cover-up was complete.

Cover-up, slush funds and secrecy, it is a craft inside the Beltway… and way beyond Congress.

11/29/17

The “Regulation Freedom” Amendment and Daniel Webster

By Publius Huldah

“The politician that undertakes to improve a Constitution with as little thought as a farmer sets about mending his plow, is no master of his trade. If that Constitution be a systematic one, if it be a free one, its parts are so necessarily connected that an alteration in one will work an alteration in all; and this cobbler, however pure and honest his intentions, will, in the end, find that what came to his hands a fair and lovely fabric goes from them a miserable piece of patchwork.” Daniel Webster, 4th of July Oration, 1802.

We live in a time of constitutional illiteracy.  A recent survey found that only 26% of Americans can name the three branches of the federal government. Yet every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks he knows all about how to amend a document he never bothered to read.  Our lawyers were indoctrinated in law school with the Supreme Court’s perversions of our Constitution, and know nothing of our actual Constitution. We should read and learn the Constitution we have before we tinker with it or jump on the bandwagon of tinkerers.  Otherwise, we destroy the “fair and lovely fabric” we were given.

Summary

Under our Constitution, Congress makes the laws, and the President enforces them. The powers of “making” and “enforcing” are separated so that the President and Congress may act as a “check” on each other.

But 100 years ago, Congress starting passing laws they had no constitutional authority to make, and delegated the details to be written in by agencies within the Executive Branch. This process continued and resulted in the Code of Federal Regulations which contains the huge body of regulations made by agencies within the Executive Branch. And thus we got the unconstitutional administrative law state under which every aspect of our lives is being increasingly regulated and controlled. 1

And now appear those who, under the promise of limiting the regulatory administrative law state, propose an Amendment to our Constitution which would legalize it!

1. Only the Legislative Branch has Constitutional Authority to make Laws

Article I of our Constitution created the Legislative Branch of the federal government.  Section 1 thereunder says:

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”

That means what it says.  Only Congress may make laws [and laws are restricted to the powers granted in the Constitution]; and laws may be made only by elected Senators and Representatives in Congress.

2. The Executive Branch Enforces the Laws Congress makes

Article II of our Constitution created the Executive Branch. A primary function of that branch is to enforce laws passed by the Legislative Branch. Since the President’s Oath is to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution, he is obligated to refuse to enforce any Act of Congress which is unconstitutional.

3. Rulemaking by Agencies in the Executive Branch

But during the early 1900s, Congress began to make laws outside the scope of the handful of powers granted to the federal government, and delegated the details to be written by unelected bureaucrats in the Executive Branch.

This is now routine practice: Congress passes an overall statutory framework, and bureaucrats in the Executive Agencies write the rules to flesh it out. The Agencies themselves are often unconstitutional as outside the scope of powers granted in the Constitution. 2

To illustrate:  Congress passed – without reading – the over 2,000-page Obamacare act. Then it went to the Department of Health & Human Services (an unconstitutional federal agency) to have tens of thousands of additional pages of regulations added to fill out the framework.

This unconstitutional practice resulted in the infamous Code of Federal Regulations. The Code is so huge it’s difficult to impossible to keep up with the rules and revisions which pretend to regulate one’s trade, business, or profession.

The administrative law state and agency rules are unconstitutional!  They violate Art. I, § 1, US Constitution, and are outside the scope of powers granted to the federal government.

So, what’s the solution?

4. The “Regulation Freedom” Amendment

Roman Buhler of the “The Madison Coalition” says we should support the “Regulation Freedom” Amendment to the US Constitution:

“Whenever one quarter of the Members of the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate transmit to the President their written declaration of opposition to a proposed federal regulation, it shall require a majority vote of the House and Senate to adopt that regulation.”

Do you see the trap the amendment sets?  It would legalize rulemaking by federal agencies in the Executive Branch and would thus supersede Article I, §1 of our Constitution!  And the entire existing Code of Federal Regulations and the rulemaking process itself – which now violate the Constitution – would be made constitutional!

The amendment would thus bring about a fundamental transformation of our Constitution from one where Laws are made by elected Representatives on only a handful of enumerated powers; to the administrative law state where laws are made by unelected, nameless, faceless bureaucrats in the Executive Branch (the same branch that accuses, prosecutes, and judges violations).  The executive agencies would make whatever Rules they please—and they would stand unless Congress, which often doesn’t even read the laws they pass, overrules it.

It protects 2nd Amendment Rights?

In an email dated November 10, 2017, Mr. Buhler said his proposed amendment “protects 2nd Amendment Rights”.

But his amendment does the opposite – it legalizes all the existing federal regulations which restrict firearms and ammunition. Look at Title 27, Chapter II, Subchapter B, Parts 478 and 479 of the Code of Federal Regulations.  As of now, every rule in Parts 478 & 479 is unconstitutional as outside the scope of powers delegated in the Constitution; violates Article I, §1; and violates the 2nd Amendment. But with Buhler’s proposed amendment, all those rules would become constitutional!

Furthermore, the amendment would provide constitutional authority for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to make whatever future rules they want – and they would all be constitutional unless Congress objects and votes against them.

So the amendment vastly increases the powers of the federal government by legalizing what is now grotesquely unconstitutional.

5. Daniel Webster’s Warning

We are in a state of moral, religious, intellectual, and psychological decline. We don’t know what our Constitution says, and didn’t bother to find out. We elected people who didn’t know and didn’t care – and they made a mess.

To fix the mess, we must learn and enforce the Constitution we have and elect people who know it and obey it.  We can gradually downsize the federal government to its enumerated powers. And as to Buhler’s proposed amendment, heed Daniel Webster’s warning:

“…If an angel should be winged from Heaven, on an errand of mercy to our country, the first accents that would glow on his lips would be, Beware! Be cautious! You have everything to lose; you have nothing to gain. We live under the only government that ever existed which was framed by the unrestrained and deliberate consultations of the people.  Miracles do not cluster.  That which has happened but once in six thousand years cannot be expected to happen often. Such a government, once gone, might leave a void, to be filled, for ages, with revolution and tumult, riot and despotism…”Webster’s Oration.

Endnotes:

1 Administrative law judges in Executive Branch agencies decide whether violations of agency rules have occurred. The agencies thus act as lawmaker, prosecutor, and judge!  Isaiah 33:22 says God is our Judge, Law-giver, and King. Because humans are corrupt, our Framers separated the functions into three separate branches of government: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial.  And since the Oath of Office requires persons within each branch to obey the Constitution – not the other brancheseach branch has a “check” on the other branches.

2 Where’s the constitutional authority for the Dept. of Education?  Energy? Agriculture?   Housing & Urban Development?  Labor?  Environmental Protection?  etc., etc., etc.?

3 Our existing, but long ignored, Constitution limits federal power to the enumerated powers.  But the proposed amendment would supersede that limitation because it permits the exercise of federal power on whatever the Executive Agencies make rules about!

11/29/17

NBC Core Values

By: T F Stern | Self-Educated American

Moments after the dismissal of Matt Lauer for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace” NBC issued the following statement:

“Dear colleagues, on Monday night we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer,” Lack wrote. “It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment.”

Lauer, 59, had been with the “Today” show since 1994. He became the co-anchor in 1998.

“While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News,” Lack continued, “we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident. Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences. No matter who the offender, we are deeply saddened by this turn of events but we will face it together as a news organization — and do it in as transparent a manner as we can.”

I find it interesting NBC would bring up the issue of Core Values; quite frankly it might appear to be the first time NBC was aware that Core Values exist.  I took my puppy to the veterinarian yesterday and one of the first things they did was conduct a core sample to see if she had worms.  Maybe that’s the kind of core values NBC claims to have.  How’s that for imagery?

For a company that is supposed to report the news, NBC would seem to be in the business of hiding the news in order to keep their own from being exposed.  Their coverage, or lack thereof, during the past presidential campaign and election would be one of many as can be summed up in an article by Wayne Allyne Root written back on August 10, 2016.

“It’s so bad that NBC News now stands for NO BAD CLINTON NEWS.

Root went on to destroy the credibility of NBC as they failed to report anything on Hillary Clinton other than pure fluff rather than inform the public of the criminal nature of their pre-ordained President.

When a real news item happened like, the bombing in Barcelona by radical Islam terrorists that killed and maimed innocent folks, “NBC gave the Barcelona terrorist attack four minutes and 32 seconds of total airtime while they gave Trump related stories seven minutes and 34 seconds. Time totals don’t include teasers or commercials.”

This list could go on for quite a bit.  Some of you might not be old enough to remember back in 1993 when NBC rigged a GM pickup truck’s gas tanks with incendiary explosives so it would ‘prove’ how dangerous those trucks were.

“In an extraordinary public apology, NBC said Tuesday night that it erred in staging a fiery test crash of a General Motors pickup truck for its “Dateline NBC” news program and agreed to settle a defamation suit filed by the auto maker.”

About the only Core Values NBC have come with a fake applause sign as a means of improving viewer ratings…and even those ratings are in question.

I’ll close with my original thought; does NBC have any Core Values, something other than a lust for money and power?

11/29/17

Replacing God With Mind-Altering Drugs

By: Cliff Kincaid | America’s Survival

The Soros-funded movement to legalize drugs now wants to make “mind-expanding” drugs more available, even mandatory, in order to erase traditional Christianity and transform consciousness through “New Age” practices. Dr. Tina Trent, a researcher for www.sorosfiles.com, explains how promoting “psychedelic medicine” will lay the groundwork for this insidious campaign.

11/28/17

Deport Those Chinese Operatives Now!

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Have you read the newly released book titled ‘Bully of Asia’ by Steven W. Mosher? China is the single largest threat to global stability and Russia and Iran are in second and third place.

Have you heard of the Thucydides Trap? China is an ascending power and just who is paying attention? Have you studied the fact that China is a major enabler of North Korea’s aggressive behavior including the most recent launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile?

China is a thief. China has dispatched operatives throughout the West under the guise of cultural exchanges, students, temporary workers and journalists. It is all about espionage and cyberwar.

Hey State Department and DHS, get these operatives outta here! By the way, are there any sanctions on China with regard to PLA Unit 61398?

Have you wondered what happened to that Obama Asia Pivot that he announced in 2011? The United States needs to pivot again and now.

Why?

This Beijing-Linked Billionaire Is Funding Policy Research at Washington’s Most Influential Institutions

The Chinese Communist Party is quietly reshaping public opinion and policy abroad.

FP: The Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), located just a short walk from Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., is one of the top international relations schools in the United States. Its graduates feed into a variety of government agencies, from the State Department to the CIA, and the military. Its China studies program is especially well known; many graduates come away with expert knowledge of the language, culture, and politics of the United States’ most important strategic competitor.

In August, SAIS announced a new endowed professorship in the China Studies department as well as a new research project called the Pacific Community Initiative, which aims to examine “what China’s broader role in Asia and the world means for its neighbors and partners.”

What the SAIS press release did not say is that the money for the new initiatives came in part from the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), a Hong Kong-based nonprofit. CUSEF is a registered foreign agent bankrolled by a high-ranking Chinese government official with close ties to a sprawling Chinese Communist Party apparatus that handles influence operations abroad, known as the “united front.”

The China-U.S. Exchange Foundation’s partnership with a premier U.S. academic institution comes amid a Chinese Communist Party push to strengthen its influence over policy debate around the globe. The Chinese government has sought to repress ideas it doesn’t like and to amplify those it does, and its efforts have met with growing success.

Even as Washington is embroiled in a debate over Russian influence in U.S. elections, it’s China that has proved adept at inserting itself in American politics.

“The Chinese approach to influence operation is a bit different than the Russian one,” said Peter Mattis, a fellow at the Jamestown Foundation. “The Russian one is much more about an operational objective and they work backward from that objective, saying, ‘How do we achieve that?’” But on the Chinese side, Mattis said, “they focus on relationships — and not on the relationships having specific takeaway value, but that someday, some way, those relationships might become valuable.”

The Chinese seek a kind of “ecological change,” he explained. “If they cultivate enough people in the right places, they start to change the debate without having to directly inject their own voice.”

The China-U.S. Exchange Foundation was founded in 2008 by Tung Chee-hwa, a Hong Kong shipping magnate who later served as the chief executive of the former British colony, where he championed the benefits of close ties to Beijing. Tung’s Hong Kong-based nonprofit conducts academic and professional exchanges, bringing U.S. journalists, scholars, and political and military leaders to mainland China. It also has funded research projects at numerous U.S. institutions, including the Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Atlantic Council, the Center for American Progress, the East-West Institute, the Carter Center, and the Carnegie Endowment for Peace.

Tung’s foundation’s ties to the united front are indirect, but important. Tung currently serves as the vice chairman of one of the united front’s most important entities — the so-called Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which is one of China’s two rubber-stamp assemblies.

The body is one of Beijing’s most crucial tentacles for extending influence.

In its newest project with SAIS, the foundation describes the Pacific Community Initiative as a “joint research project.” David Lampton, director of the university’s China Studies Program, said in an August press release that the new professor “will also be responsible for running our Pacific Community Initiative and work closely with the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation in Hong Kong.”

Lampton also confirmed that CUSEF funded the new programs. “Both the Initiative and the Professorship were made possible through the support of the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation,” he said in an emailed statement to Foreign Policy.

But he denied that CUSEF had attached any intellectual strings to its funding.

“There are absolutely no conditions or limitations imposed upon the Pacific Community Initiative or our faculty members by reason of a gift or otherwise,” Lampton told FP. “We have full confidence in the academic integrity and independence of these endeavors.”

CUSEF denies it acts as a vehicle for Beijing’s ideological agenda or has “any connections” to the united front. “We do not aim to promote or support the policies of any one government,” wrote a spokesperson for the foundation in an email.

This isn’t the first time SAIS and the foundation have worked together; they co-sponsored a conference on China’s economy in Hong Kong in March 2016, according to the school’s website. But a professorship and a major research project offer an opportunity for broader reach — the kind of global influence that Chinese President Xi Jinping has made a centerpiece of his policies. In October, at the meeting of the Communist Party that sets the national agenda for the next five years, Xi called for an expansion of the party’s overseas influence work, referring to the united front as a “magic weapon” of party power.

That quest to shape the global view of China isn’t the same thing as soft power, said James Leibold, a professor at La Trobe University in Melbourne who researches Chinese influence in Australia, where Beijing’s recent influence operations have sparked a national controversy.

China is an authoritarian state where the Communist Party rules with an iron fist, Leibold said — and that is what Beijing is trying to export.

“What we’re talking about here is not Chinese influence per se, but the influence of the Chinese Communist Party.”

In a joint project like the one at SAIS, that influence can be subtle rather than being heavy-handed, said Jamestown’s Mattis. “It’s the ability to privilege certain views over others, to create a platform for someone to speak,” he said. “When you have a role in selecting the platform and generating what I presume they hope are some of the bigger reports on U.S.-China relations in the next few years, that’s important.”

One goal of the joint research project is, in fact, to “yield a white paper to be submitted for endorsement by both the U.S. and Chinese governments,” a CUSEF spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement to FP.

While CUSEF representatives stress that it is not an agent of the Chinese Communist Party, the foundation has cooperated on projects with the the People’s Liberation Army and uses the same Washington public relations firm that the Chinese Embassy does.

One of those PLA projects is the Sanya Initiative, an exchange program that brings together U.S. and Chinese former high-ranking military leaders. On the Chinese side, the Sanya Initiative is led by a bureau of the PLA that engages in political warfare and influence operations, according to Mark Stokes, executive director of the Project 2049 Institute.

Sometimes the results of such high-level exchanges aren’t subtle. In February 2008, PLA participants in the Sanya Initiative asked their U.S. counterparts to persuade the Pentagon to delay publishing a forthcoming report about China’s military buildup, according to a segment excised from the 2011 annual report of the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

The U.S. members complied, though their request was not successful.

Exchanges and partnerships are not CUSEF’s only initiatives. As a registered foreign agent, in 2016 it spent just under $668,000 on lobbying, hiring the Podesta Group and other firms to lobby Congress on the topic of “China-U.S. relations.” The foundation has spent $510,000 on lobbying to date in 2017.

CUSEF also keeps on retainer the consulting and public relations firm BLJ Worldwide LTD, the same firm the Chinese Embassy in the United States uses. According to FARA filings, CUSEF currently pays the firm $29,700 a month to promote the foundation’s work and run a pro-Beijing website called China US Focus.

Whether through websites, partnerships, or endowments, China has learned to wrap its message in a palatable wrapper of U.S. academics and intellectuals, according to Mattis.

“Who better to influence Americans than other Americans?” he said.

11/28/17

Meet The World’s Most Powerful Bitcoin Backers

Cryptocurrency may be one of the biggest threats to governments, security and the entire financial system that we’ve ever seen. It can help fund terrorism and its anonymity makes it almost impossible to track. Most importantly, it is poised to revolutionize global finance and banking.

But our new Enemy No. 1 can’t be fought; it can perhaps be controlled. Banks have figured that out and are bringing crypto currency into the fold.

The superpowers—U.S., China and Russia–will have to face the new reality. They love to hate it and hate to love it. Regardless, if they don’t embrace it, they won’t be able to control it. An enemy you don’t control is a much bigger threat.

So, welcome to the new balance of power, funded by cryptocurrency.

“This will ‘uberize’ banking to the extent that the major banks are spending billions to get into this Blockchain, says Frank Holmes, legendary gold investor, CEO of US Global Investors and Chairman of HIVE Blockchain Technologies (TSX:HIVE.V), the first public company where investors can participate in the build-up and infrastructure of crypto-mining.

“Bitcoin is the catalyst for crypto-mining the way emails were for the Internet. When we first heard about the Internet it was for the ‘dark world’, but with email, it exploded and became mainstream. Ethereum takes crypto-mining further with smart contracts,” Holmes told Oilprice.com

The Period of Uncertainty is Over

Russia is embracing it, with an eye to dominating it. China has banned it. The U.S. is struggling to figure out how to regulate it. But nothing can hold it back.

And now, many believe the uncertainty is over.

China tried to ban it in September, making it illegal for residents to trade in cryptocurrencies or start-ups to raise funds through ICOs, completely shutting down local cryptocurrency exchanges.

Bitcoin’s price plunged 40 percent. Then it recovered almost immediately.

This was a reminder that cryptocurrency is an autonomous system that can’t be knocked out.

“The ethos behind blockchain has been tested,” Ken Sangha, COO of Open Money and the Open Project in San Francisco, told Forbes. “A central, organized and powerful authority — China — said ‘no’ and we all have been tested worldwide because of it. But the system flexed its muscles. It’s doing what it was supposed to do.”

And its muscles are the envy of tangible currencies everywhere. Bitcoin hit a record $6,000 per coin on 21 October. Naysayers came out of the woodwork to say it couldn’t possibly last, and definitely couldn’t go any higher. Wrong again. By the last week of November it was approaching $10,000 a coin.

Threats and Opportunities

The potential security threats are clear and present, but let’s put things like new avenues of terrorism funding into perspective.

At this point, terrorist groups are certainly eyeing their options with cryptocurrency, and testing the waters. In January, we saw what appears to be the first case, with the Indonesian government claiming that members of the Islamic State were transferring Bitcoin to each other.

Terrorists could create a virtual currency that is even more powerful and untraceable-one that can completely bypass the global banking system. It hasn’t happened yet, but the potential is there.

While terrorist groups may be mildly courting cryptocurrency, it’s not widespread. Speaking to Newsweek, the Rand Corp’s Joshua Baron, a cryptographer and mathematician, says he doesn’t really see Bitcoin as the “go-to currency for terrorists”—yet. “It does not offer enough anonymity.”

While terrorism is a threat to the security of all states, another threat to the U.S. is an opportunity for Russia: sanctions busting.

The rise of digital currency means that Russian officials sanctioned by the U.S. and the European Union have a way to send and receive money.

While the U.S. Treasury’s Terrorism and Financial Intelligence unit puts sanctioned individuals on a blacklist that keeps them from doing any business in U.S. dollars, cryptocurrency, which isn’t backed or controlled by any state, makes it possible to bypass the blacklist.

But even this pales in comparison to the bigger story here: Bitcoin and its fellow cryptocurrencies are challenging the foundations of the global banking system.

Disruption of the global banking system at this point is “inevitable”, Bala Venkataraman, global chief technology officer of banking and capital markets for Computer Sciences Corp, whose sister company runs the IT backbone of the National Security Agency (NSA), told Newsweek.

“Cryptocurrencies could become the new driver of international business and financial transactions, and that would be transformative, if not revolutionary,” says Dr. Makarenko, whose consulting firm advises Fortune 500 companies.

But here’s the problem:

“If we don’t truly understand how they are operating, who is controlling them and how to avoid it being used for illicit purposes, it may inadvertently turn out to be one of the most innovative turning points in the underworld, whether it’s organized crime, terrorism financing or corruption.”

The Crypto ‘Embrace’ is All About Control

Just last year, Russia was toying around with throwing Bitcoin owners in prison, characterizing cryptocurrency as an infectious pyramid scheme.

Now, Vladimir Putin’s Russia is ready to embrace cryptocurrency—if only to control it.

The real push started in July, when a Putin aide unveiled his cryptocurrency mine: an industrial-scale server farm called Russian Miner Coin. In September, the company held an initial coin offering (ICO), raising over $43 million in Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Then came the regulatory push. After all, Russia has lost an estimated $310 million this year alone due to lack of ICO regulation.

In late October, Putin issued five presidential orders for controlling cryptocurrency. This means everything from taxing coin miners and regulating initial coin offerings (ICOs) to creating legislation for new blockchain tech and setting up a single payment space, presumably with the Central Bank.

Still, the Russian government is not entirely unified on the issue. The Central Bank thinks blockchain is cool, but isn’t keen on cryptocurrency itself. They’d like to have something like a crypto-ruble that could track transactions from cryptocurrencies into rubles.

It’s far more than a fad. Cryptocurrencies are becoming increasingly visible across Russia. Mining is becoming so pervasive, in fact, that computer stores are having a hard time keeping graphic and video cards in supply.

The Russian Finance Minister, Anton Siluanov, has even gone as far as to say that cryptocurrency will soon be treated like regular financial securities.

There’s no point in prohibiting this reality, says Siluanov.

The U.S. might be of the same mind—broadly speaking, but it’s moving at a slower pace in the race to control the world’s new currency.

And it’s its own worst enemy in this scenario, says Dr. Tamara Makarenko, managing director of West Sands Advisory, a UK-based global consulting firm.

But Russia, for one, is much more motivated. Cryptocurrency is a great way to skirt sanctions.

“The U.S. is rightfully concerned about cryptocurrencies, but like anything that may have a negative impact on national security, there are way too many stakeholders that need to be brought to the table to discuss, so the U.S. is not capable of acting quickly,” Dr. Makarenko told Oilprice.com.

“The right conversations are taking place, but at the end of the day, it is in the U.S. interest to secure the value of the global position of the dollar.”

So, while China is banning cryptocurrency and the U.S. is still trying to figure things out, Russia seeks to dominate.

But just like China’s ban will be largely ineffective, so too will Russia’s move to dominate. Cryptocurrency is stateless, and that is its real power. It can be regulated, but not enslaved.

Resilience Proven, Investors Flock to the Future

Right now, about 85 percent of the world’s bitcoin trading volume comes from China. Countries with heavily subsidized energy are obvious ether mining haunts, but now the colder countries have something to offer that has nothing to do with the government, and doesn’t involve any legal gray areas that will come under scrutiny.

With even Putin’s IT advisor getting into the great game, hoping to challenge China’s hegemony in Bitcoin mining, the race is on in full force. They’re hoping to capture 30 percent of the global cryptocurrency mining share in the future.

Japanese billionaire Masatoshi Kumagai, co-founder of giant GMO Internet, announced plans recently to invest over $90 million in a new Bitcoin mining business that will operate as a fund, partially by soliciting capital from investors and repaying them in cryptocurrency.

In North America, billionaire backing is going into HIVE (TSVX:HIVE.V), via Lionsgate Entertainment and Goldcorp (NYSE:GG) superstar Frank Giustra, a legendary mining figure known for being in the right place at the right time—and always in front of a trend.

The new Great Game is virtual reality, and while governments are busy trying to figure out how they can control it, investors are busy sinking billions into what is fast becoming a story of industrial-scale cryptocurrency mining.

Now that everyone’s seen how resilient Bitcoin is, not only are things moving to the industrial phase, but everyone’s weighing the best venues for mining. Because even though this is virtual reality, location still matters.

That’s why HIVE has set up in Iceland, where Mother Nature’s natural cooling is friendly to these massive computing facilities, and where the massive energy required to mine cryptocurrency—in this case Ether–on an industrial scale is cheaper thanks to plentiful hydroelectric and geothermal sources. First, HIVE put $9 million into Hong Kong-based Genesis Mining Ltd., which just built the biggest ether-mining facility in the world—Enigma. Genesis acquired 30% of HIVE in the deal. A second deal in mid-October saw HIVE close a $30-million bought deal financing, completing a $7-million investment by Genesis Mining, acquiring a second data center in Iceland.

And now HIVE is setting up in another ‘cold country’—Sweden—with Genesis.

From China and Russia to North America, virtual is the reality. It’s no longer a question of whether cryptocurrency will survive. It’s a question of what it will disrupt on its way to the top of the global finance chain.

Link to original article: https://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/International/Meet-The-Worlds-Most-Powerful-Bitcoin-Backers.html

11/27/17

Congressman Conyers, an Icon and a Socialist

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi defended Rep. John Conyers as “an icon in our country” on Sunday, after noting he deserves “due process” as he faces allegations of sexual misconduct.

“We are strengthened by due process,” the California Democrat said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Just because someone is accused — and was it one accusation? Is it two? I think there has to be — John Conyers is an icon in our country. He has done a great deal to protect women — Violence Against Women Act, which the left — right-wing — is now quoting me as praising him for his work on that, and he did great work on that.”

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Great Nancy….did you also consider his other affiliations in your ‘icon’ remark?

Observer: Our national panic regarding sexual harassment of women by powerful men has claimed its first scalp in the nation’s capital. As of now, Minnesota Democrat Al Franken is staying in the Senate, some embarrassing incidents notwithstanding, while Alabama Republican Roy Moore may get there yet, despite multiple reports of his dalliances with underage girls. Of course, the grabber-in-chief in the White House shows no signs of going anywhere either, at least until even worse videotapes appear.

Michigan Democrat John Conyers, however, has taken a direct hit and has stepped down from his House leadership roles, including as the ranking member of the powerful Judiciary Committee, in the wake of press reports which depict him as a serial harasser and worse. This is a stunning fall for the 27-term Congressman, at present the House of Representatives’ longest-serving member, who has been prominent on his party’s left wing for more than a half-century.

In other words, the 88-year-old Conyers is no average member of Congress. The results of the House Ethics Committee investigation of his relations with female staffers are not yet in, and let it be said that all Americans are innocent until proven guilty. However, the allegations against Conyers, if true, portray the esteemed veteran of the civil rights movement in a troubling light. For now, he’s professing his innocence and standing his ground, indicating he has no intention of resigning from the House, where he has served since 1965.

His defenders cite that the elderly Conyers grew up in a profoundly different age, and that he has not adapted to current sensitivities about sexual matters. That said, it probably didn’t help him that yesterday Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, brushed off allegations against Conyers with the statement that he “is an icon in our country.” The implication that there are different rules for icons didn’t sit well with some Americans—after all, Bill Cosby was a national icon too, until recently—and Pelosi’s soundbite seems certain to feature in Republican ads next year in advance of the midterm election.

Nevertheless, there’s considerable irony regarding how Conyers is being treated by fellow Democrats, given the party’s current obsession with Russian espionage and propaganda—at least when it involves Republicans. The so-called “resistance” to Donald Trump is all the rage right now among Democrats, particularly on the party’s left wing, of which Conyers has been a prominent member of since the mid-1960s. While Pelosi and other “resisters” denounce President Trump and Kremlin malfeasance non-stop these days, Conyers has been notably silent about Russian spy-games.

That’s because, whatever inappropriate things Conyers may (or may not) have done with female staffers, he’s unquestionably been uncomfortably pro-Moscow for decades. Cursory examination of Conyers’ words and actions reveal a politician who is, at best, a longstanding dupe of the Kremlin. Worst of all, this “secret” aspect to Conyers’ political life has been hiding in plain sight for years, something that polite people didn’t bring up at Georgetown soirées, yet which was known to anybody who can access Google.

However, in the current hothouse climate regarding Russian spies and lies in our nation’s capital, Conyers’ ties to the Kremlin need to be discussed. From the beginning of his political career, Conyers had close relations with prominent members of the Communist Party USA, and he was a longtime member of the National Lawyers Guild, a CPUSA-affiliated group, as well as a leader of its Detroit chapter. Conyers never made much effort to mask his associations with known CPUSA members, even after being elected to Congress. Keep in mind that, as proven by KGB files, the CPUSA was a wholly-owned Kremlin operation, clandestinely funded by Soviet spies, and operating under Moscow’s direction.

Conyers went further and associated with known KGB fronts. He was long active in the World Peace Council—which sounds like a Quaker-run group but was founded by the Kremlin at the beginning of the Cold War. The WPC followed the Moscow line religiously, serving as a conduit for KGB Active Measures against the West, regularly denouncing American “war-mongering” and “imperialism” while coordinating anti-NATO protests in many countries.

With the publication of the Mitrokhin archive in 1999, the KGB’s supervisory relationship to the WPC was made public, though it was obvious long before to anyone who wanted to see that the latter was a leading Kremlin front for espionage and propaganda. Not that Conyers was deterred from involvement with the WPC, and he helped establish its American chapter, the U.S. Peace Council. He addressed its inaugural meeting in Philadelphia in November 1979, alongside numerous KGB agents, including Romesh Chandra, a prominent Indian Communist who headed the WPC for decades and was a senior operative of the Soviet secret police.

Such public actions did not go undetected, and on occasion the press made note of Conyers’ ties to the WPC and other Soviet fronts, particularly in the early 1980s, when KGB Active Measures against NATO reached their peak. It should be noted that Conyers was hardly the only left-wing Democrat in Washington who cultivated links to Kremlin spy-fronts during the Cold War.

American counterintelligence had questions, too. Investigating members of Congress was always a touchy issue for our counterspies, given the political sensitivities, but Conyers’ chumminess with the KGB was noted in our Intelligence Community. The benign take on Conyers’ questionable associations was that he was a mere dupe, a “useful idiot” to use the proper term. Others weren’t so sure, and when I asked a veteran IC counter-intelligencer who had checked out Conyers back in the 1980s, he responded with a wry smile: “Do you really think anybody’s that stupid?”

Moreover, this isn’t just a historical matter. Conyers has continued to follow the Moscow line on countless issues down to the present day. Back in 2010, when WikiLeaks was busy dumping hundreds of thousands of stolen classified State Department files on the Internet, Conyers came to the defense of Julian Assange and his cyber-criminal gang, stating that WikiLeaks had committed no crimes. That was a remarkable thing for the then-chair of the House Judiciary Committee to say, particularly when the leadership of his own party—including President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—proffered a radically different take on the case.

Since WikiLeaks barely bothers to conceal its Kremlin links these days, questions abound regarding Conyers’ public defense of the group which did so much damage to the Democrats and their presidential nominee in 2016. Even as relations with Moscow have soured since Russia’s seizure of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine in early 2014, Conyers has continued to spout Kremlin propaganda, as he has done for decades.

In June 2015, Conyers went on a tirade against Ukraine on the floor of the House, denouncing Kyiv’s military as “neo-Nazi”—a slander that was quickly parroted by Kremlinmouthpieces online. He stated that Ukraine should not get anti-aircraft missiles from Washington, citing as evidence the shootdown of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, the murder of 299 innocents—without noting that it was Russians, not Ukrainians, who downed the civilian airliner. It comes as no surprise that the bill amendment before the House to block anti-air missiles for Ukraine that was sponsored by Conyers was arranged by the notorious pro-Kremlin lobbyist Paul Manafort—the very same swamp macher who’s now facing indictments over his shady ties to President Trump and the Russians.

Conyers’ decades of spouting unfiltered Kremlin propaganda is so notorious in Washington that last year the Huffington Post, nobody’s idea of a right-wing outlet, ran a piece on him entitled “Putin’s Man in Congress.” That charge seems fair, based on the evidence, and is something that needs public discussion, particularly as Washington prepares to root out Moscow’s secret spy-propaganda apparatus in our nation’s capital.

That dirty apparat has been at work for decades. Kremlin disinformation didn’t begin with Donald Trump, and any thorough investigation of Russian espionage will reveal plenty of collaborators in Washington, on both sides of the political aisle. Some of them will even be Democratic “icons.” If the “resistance” isn’t willing to confront the bipartisan nature of the Kremlin’s clandestine political warfare against our country, they need to get out of the amateur counterspy business before they do real damage to our democracy.

11/27/17

3 Chinese Nationals Charged with Hacking, Stealing Intellectual Property

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Indictment found here.

Wonder if President Trump has called President Xi… The U.S. Treasury should at least sanction Guangzhou Bo Yu Information Technology Company Limited.

Pittsburgh:

The Justice Department on Monday unsealed an indictment against three Chinese nationals in connection with cyberhacks and the alleged theft of intellectual property of three companies, according to US officials briefed on the investigation.

But the Trump administration is stopping short of publicly confronting the Chinese government about its role in the breach. The hacks occurred during both the Obama and Trump administrations.

The charges being brought in Pittsburgh allege that the hackers stole intellectual property from several companies, including Trimble, a maker of navigation systems; Siemens, a German technology company with major operations in the US; and Moody’s Analytics.

US investigators have concluded that the three charged by the US attorney in Pittsburgh were working for a Chinese intelligence contractor, the sources briefed on the investigation say. But missing from court documents filed in the case is any explicit mention that the thefts were state-sponsored.

A 2015 deal between then-President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping prohibits the US and China from stealing intellectual property for the purpose of giving advantage to domestic companies.

In recent months some US intelligence agencies have concluded that China is breaking the agreement, sources briefed on the matter say. But there’s debate among intelligence officials about whether there’s sufficient evidence to publicly reveal the Chinese government’s role in the infractions, these people say.

Obama administration officials had touted the Obama-Xi agreement, as well as 2014 Justice Department charges against members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army for commercial espionage, for reducing some of the Chinese cyberactivity against companies in the US.

But the 2015 Obama-Xi deal was met with skepticism inside the US agencies whose job it is to guard against Chinese cyberactivity targeting US companies. Some now say there was only a brief drop in the number of cyberspying incidents, if at all.

In the waning months of the Obama administration, intelligence officials briefed senior White House officials on information showing that the Chinese cyberattacks were back to levels previously seen, sources familiar with the matter told CNN. Early in the Trump administration, US intelligence officials briefed senior officials, including the President and vice president, as well as advisers Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon. More here.

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Acting U.S. Attorney for Western Pennsylvania Soo C. Song charged Wu Yingzhuo, Dong Hao and Xia Lei with conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, conspiracy to steal trade secrets, wire fraud and identity theft.

The most serious charge, wire fraud, carries a sentence of up 20 years in federal prison. Each conspiracy charge has a possible sentence of up to 10 years and the identity theft carries a sentence of up to two years.

The indictment alleged that Wu, Dong and Xia worked with Guangzhou Bo Yu Information Technology Company Limited, a Chinese cybersecurity firm in Guangzhou, but used their skills to launch attacks on corporations in the U.S.

Between 2011 and May 2017, the trio stole files containing documents and data pertaining to a new technology under development by Trimble, along with employee usernames and passwords and 407 gigabytes of proprietary data concerning Siemens’ energy, technology and transportation efforts, according to the indictment. The trio gained access to the internal email server at Moody’s Analytics and forwarded all emails sent to an “influential economist” working for the firm, the indictment stated. Those emails contained proprietary and confidential economic analyses, findings and opinions. The economist was not named in the indictment.

A Siemens spokesperson said that the company “rigorously” monitors and protects its infrastructure and continually detects and hunts for breaches. The company did not comment on the alleged breach by the Chinese hackers and declined to comment on internal security measures.

Michael Adler, a spokesman for Moody’s Analytics, said that to the company’s knowledge no confidential consumer data or other personal employee information was exposed in the alleged hack.

“We take information security very seriously and continuously review and enhance our cybersecurity defenses to safeguard the integrity of our data and systems,” Adler wrote in an email to the Tribune-Review.

Trimble, in a statement sent to the Trib, wrote that no client data was breached. The company concluded that the attack had no meaningful impact on its business.

Song, however, said the loss to the companies targeted was considerable.

“The fruit of these cyber intrusions and exfiltration of data represent a staggering amount of dollars and hours lost to the companies,” Song said.

Wu, Dong and Xia used “spearphish” emails to gain access to computers, spread malware to infect networks and covered their tracks by exploiting other computers known as “hop points.”

Hop points allow users to hide their identities and locations by routing themselves through third-party computer networks.

“But there were missteps that led our investigators right to them,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Bob Johnson of the Pittsburgh office.

Johnson would not elaborate on the missteps the accused hackers took, claiming doing so could jeopardize future investigations.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office led the investigation and was assisted by the FBI’s Pittsburgh Division, the Navy Criminal Investigative Service Cyber Operations Field Office and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.